Pointless Nonsense

Posted in comics by Bill on December 8, 2011

Starman is a series that ran from 1994 to 2001 that is one of the rare 90s superhero comics people (whose opinions I respect) seem to remember fondly, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s written by James Robinson, who’s work I’ve never particularly enjoyed (he wrote the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen screenplay), and drawn mostly by Tony Harris, who was ok on Ex Machina but his use of photo referencing make his characters look like posed mannequins from time to time. Anyway, the concept is that the son of the original golden age Starman reluctantly takes up the mantle and protects Opal City from various threats. But there’s not a ton of superheroics, it’s largely about this guy trying to rebuild his life, reconcile with his father, and acquire vintage junk for his collectibles store.

I can’t put my finger on what I like about it (other than the cool architecture of the city), but I’m making my way through it pretty quickly. There are a few things I don’t care for. James Robinson’s obsession with old stuff (he’s apparently a big golden age comics fan and a collector of random old stuff) becomes a tick through the whole series. It’s appropriate for the protagonist to be constantly referencing Hoagy Carmichael or Julie Newmar, he’s professionally interested in older pop culture. But a meeting between drug dealers and a crooked cop discussing which Sondheim musical is the best? A henchman beating a hostage while musing on Raymond Chandler? Those don’t make any sense. My other complaint is that they go overboard making this new Starman “too cool” to wear a cape and tights, so they give him goggles and a leather jacket various t-shirts and tattoos. But in attempting to make him a rebel, they hit so many of the cliches of rebellion that they make him into kind of a joke. And maybe that’s just easier to see 15 years later, when his few then-modern tendencies now look dated.

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